An animal rights activist in Kenya has sounded the alarm over the increasing number of donkeys being illegally slaughtered in bushes in different parts of the country.
Brooke East Africa Regional Director Raphael Kinoti said various cases of donkey slaughter have been reported in different locations such as Kitengela and Athi River in Machakos district, with the latest case reported in Mbaruk in Gilgil area of Nakuru district.
“The donkeys are slaughtered in bushes and the meat harvested, which means Kenyans can unknowingly consume donkey meat while visiting their favorite restaurant or carrying their fresh cut home from a butcher shop,” said Kinoti.
He hailed the Ministry of Agriculture for closing the country’s four authorized donkey slaughterhouses and said the country’s donkey population is now on the road to recovery following the closure.
Trade in donkey meat
The government ordered the closure of donkey slaughterhouses in 2020 amid concerns over the animals being stolen by gangs seeking their skin and other produce. The operators have filed a lawsuit against this ban in court, but the ban has not yet been lifted. Two of the slaughterhouses were located in Naivasha and Mogotio in Baringo County.
Kinoti said the country lost over 300,000 donkeys while the slaughterhouses were operating, which is a very big loss as the country boasts of having just over 1.8 million donkeys, about three quarters of which are farm animals used for transport and agriculture key role in Kenya’s agricultural economy.
The director of this animal welfare organization said that animals are important in the economic life of many Kenyans, especially in arid and semi-arid areas where they are used to transport water and other items due to their resilience. He appealed to donkey farmers to continue taking good care of their animals so that they can reproduce and increase their numbers.
“An overworked donkey with poor nutritional status cannot reproduce,” Kinoti said, urging farmers to always give their donkeys time to rest and feed, and to provide medical care if they are unwell.
Kenya had become the epicenter of a fast-growing industry in Africa to ship donkey skins to China, where a gelatin cooked from them called ejiao is used in a traditional medicine believed to halt aging and the increases libido. This raised the price of donkeys from Sh6,000 to Sh10,000.
The trade in donkey meat and skins was legalized in Kenya in 2012. Although veterinary experts say donkey meat is safe for human consumption, its consumption has yet to take root in Kenya. A report by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) showed that more than 4,000 donkeys were reported stolen between April 2016 and December 2018. Kenya had licensed four donkey slaughterhouses as of 2016, far more than any other country on the African continent.